The Atlanta Falcons are doubtlessly negotiating with multiple players as I write this, but for better or for worse, some of the biggest names on the market will not be coming to Atlanta.
This was anticipated, of course. The Falcons have never been philosophically aligned with the idea that getting multiple big name free agents leads to more wins, and there's pretty compelling evidence that the approach is fraught with peril. Look at the "Dream Team" Eagles or the Miami Dolphins for salient examples of that. The Falcons are, by all indications, planning to take an approach to free agency that does not rely on a Dunta Robinson-esque splash and little else, which is frankly welcome news.
The lack of success and return on value from those free agents in past years isn't going to stop those teams from bidding on the best available players. The Dolphins have a reported deal with hulking DT Ndamukong Suh worth $60 million in guaranteed money, the Eagles are reportedly closing in on a deal with free agent CB Byron Maxwell and the Packers have already closed on a four year, $40 million deal with WR Randall Cobb. By the time the market formally opens up on Tuesday, a lot of those top tier guys will be gone already.
Given that the Falcons were not particularly likely to be in on any of those free agents due to price tag, that's not the worst thing in the world. The danger is that the rest of the market will benefit from these initial huge contracts and the players Atlanta is chasing will go up in price, but that's a risk with every free agency period. The Falcons would be wise to pursue a course that lands them multiple tangible upgrades, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, and try to land impact draft picks and develop them. That approach will be cheaper and likely smarter in the long run, and if the Falcons are going to hold on to the small handful of stars they have, that matters.
If the Falcons have to muddle through 2015 with legitimate improvements but few star additions, I think most of us all will take that. The payoff just has to come sooner rather than later to satiate a fanbase fed up with falling short, and if the Falcons manage their dollars and signings well, we'll hope that turnaround comes sooner than later.
The bottom line here is that the Falcons still have legitimate work to do in free agency, and they can't afford to squander their dollars. I just appreciate the fact that they're not out there blowing a third to half of their cap space on a single player, given the number of needs the team clearly has.